Monday, December 3, 2012

Facebook Through The Ages: How Your Age Affects What You Post

I'm supposed to be working right now.  I have a deadline literally staring at me in a rude and ballsy way.  But thanks to the flu I had last week, my mind cannot function past a 3rd grade level.  So here I am.

I was recently unfriended by someone on Facebook because I had the nerve to "like" a humorous picture someone else had posted on her wall.  It looked a little something like this (actually, it looked EXACTLY like this):

When I saw this, I howled with laughter.  Because it was true.  Every time this person cut her hair, grew her hair out, changed the part in her hair, changed her lip color, eye color, or aura color she posted a picture of herself on Facebook.

"That's what the young people do," someone told me recently.  "It's all about the self-portrait."

Choosing to ignore the fact that the person speaking to me was implying that I was no longer part of the young crowd and that I was, in fact, so out-of-the-loop that I had no idea the generation following me had an obsession with seeing themselves pixelated in a format that allows everyone from their 1st grade teacher to the guy they think they met in a bar once to comment on how amazing they looked at 1:20 PM, 1:22 PM, and 1:27 PM - I started thinking about how our age affects what we post on Facebook.

Let me break it down for you.


When you're in your 20s, it's important for everyone to think you are having a great time no matter what you're doing and there is no better way to convince everyone of that fact than by taking pictures of yourself doing everything from drying your hair in a flirty fashion to drinking a beer near the bumper of someone's car.  You must have at least 20 pictures of yourself wearing college gear (even if you do not go to said college), 100 where you look like you're "dressed down" and just hanging out (even though it took you 20 minutes to primp for each picture), and 500 group shots with people you don't really know but have friended on Facebook just so that you can tag each person (including pets).

The 75 profile pictures you have were taken by you, with your own phone, as you stood in the mirror, sat in your car at a stop light, stood in line at Starbucks for your Peppermint Mocha, and sat in your airline seat on your way to Spring Break 2012 (woo-hoo!).  Each photo is flattering both in light and angle and it appears that you walk around with a professional staging crew to capture these Kodak Moments (if you're reading this and you're in your 20s, I'm betting you don't even know what a "Kodak Moment" is).

Your status updates go something like "having a great time with ____ and _____!  BFFs!" or "some people are just rude.  U know who u r."  You have occasional political insight and, if you're a girl, post things about the football game that's on so that you seem like you know what you're talking about when the guy you like looks at your profile.

As far as Facebook goes, life is perfection.


Now, here's where things get tricky.  Depending on where you are in your 30s, you may not have had Facebook in your 20s and you're cursing all of those 20-somethings you're friends with because they have all of these adorable profile pictures you wish you had.  Now you're stuck with that Christmas picture from last year that you cropped your parents out of but figured that it hides your budding double chin the best so you'll go with it.  Most of your pictures involve your kids or one of your pets doing something cute.  And your day is made when one of your other 30-something friends posts a picture like this and you can share it:

Your status updates involve pictures of the crap you bought in your 20s that you're trying to unload so that you can upgrade or questions about why one of the kids or pets you have displayed all over your timeline is throwing up all over your house.  At least once a month, you mention how much you hate Mondays and every once in a while you try and update your profile picture but then figure out that Christmas shot is still the best you can do.  You make sure that everyone knows how proud you are of the pictured pets or kids, that last week you went to Happy Hour (just to make sure people know you still kind of have a life), and enough stuff in your profile to make things look good just in case someone you hated in high school looks you up.

In the World of Facebook, you're doing pretty well.


So, now you definitely didn't have Facebook when you were in your 20s so cute profile pictures are not an option.  You choose a beautiful landscape or picture of someone else who may or may not be an actual member of your family to represent you in the world of social media.  At this point, it's very important to have in your profile where you work so that people don't think you just sit around and look at Facebook all day (when, really, that's what you're doing at the advertised job).

In 2012, you spent much of your time trying to come up with witty and life-changing political statements in order to change the minds of the three 20-somethings you're friends with and unfriended 25% of the people on your profile because their political statements didn't agree with yours and were, in fact, more witty and life-changing than you could ever come up with.  The main reason why you log into Facebook each day is to see if George Takei has downloaded any new pictures so that you can share them before your other 40-something friends.

Most of your status updates involve "Mom is finally out of surgery and Dad's back is acting up again" or "I won't say what I caught my son doing but that's the last time I bail him out of jail."

Facebook is making you look a little disgruntled.  But you really don't give a shit.


You've put a profile picture up of you with your kids/grandkids but all the little square shows is your boobs because you can't figure out how to work that thumbnail thingy to get it centered right.  Most of your status updates involve pictures of inspirational quotes trying to get those 30 and 40-somethings you're friends with to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

People have started tagging you in pictures they've scanned in of holidays when they were 2 and you were 25.  So the fact that you didn't have Facebook in your 20s really doesn't matter because now you have 100 pictures on your profile of yourself with an unlined face, laughing at your crazy life, drink in your hand, and a waistline you would kill for right now.

And the world of Facebook has come full circle.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Confidant and the Source

I am one of those shallow women who gets most of her news from either US Weekly or People.  This is not something I'm proud of - it's just a fact.  If George Clooney didn't speak on its behalf, I would have no idea there were problems in Darfur.  If Leonardo DiCaprio didn't drive a Prius, I might not know that global warming was an issue.  And if Brad and Angelina didn't adopt from it, I don't know if I would have ever heard of Cambodia.

Again.  Not proud of it.  But there you have it.

I've tried getting my news from more reliable sources, but as time goes on and I get a little older and wiser I've come to realize that there really aren't any reliable sources.  And the bonus to getting all of my news from these cheesy magazines is that, as Jeff Goldblum said in The Big Chill, they don't "write anything longer than what the average person can read during the average dump."

In other words - the news is concise and to the point while oftentimes completely pointless.

So, after years of reading these magazines I've noticed 2 people who have stood the test of time.  They have shown up in just about every article in every magazine.  They are invited to every party, every intimate dinner, and every fight that every celebrity has.  They know everything and aren't afraid to share it with anyone who will listen (namely US Weekly and People) and seem ready to spill their guts at a moment's notice.

The Confidant and the Source.

Now, the Confidant knows everything.  She was there when Heidi Montag got her breasts enlarged to a size MMM.  She was there as Adele was getting ready for her baby.  She stood by Rob Pattinson's side during the Twilight cheating scandal while simultaneously listening to Kristen Stewart about what a huge mistake she had made.  She has been there for Kim Kardashian while she sorts out her unfortunate 72 day marriage.  And she has been exercising alongside Jessica Simpson as she attempts to lose 850 lbs. in post-baby weight.

She's exhausted.  But she's in the know.

The Source isn't as involved but is still just as busy.  She is seated next to every celebrity at every restaurant, watching what they order and how many times they kiss the person they're not supposed to be with.  She somehow managed to be in the room when Prince Harry dropped trou (and every woman in the world was jealous of that one).  She has followed every contestant of The Bachelor since the show's beginning.  And John Travolta has several lawsuits pending against the Source.

I would love to be one of these people.  I imagine that the Source has logged over a million airline miles in order to be everywhere she needs to be and that the Confidant is constantly in sweats, ready to lounge around and listen to the problems of any celebrity who needs her.  They have constant job security because no one can possibly know everything they do.  When the news is slow, one of these magazines can call either one of them at any time and develop a story out of thin air.

It's genius.

In reality, I often wonder if these writers, stuck in a web of cubicles somewhere, just lean over to one of their co-workers and say, "Dude.  I need a quote about Lady Gaga" and the other guy says, "She needs to lose some weight."

This gets translated into "A source confirms that Lady Gaga is on a new weight-loss plan."  This then makes the cover where someone will snap it up at the store, wondering if her diet plan includes following the Atkins program where she will eat her own meat dress.

But who are we to doubt that it's true?  After came from a Source.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why the Christmas Spirit Now Requires a USB Cord and a Password

Throughout the years, I have learned a lot about the toys I want my kids to have for Christmas.

That's right.  The toys I want them to have.

I pretty much avoid anything that says "Assembly Required" because if it has more than 5 pieces, that's the equivalent to at least 3 glasses of wine and I'm never quite sure what the end result will be.  I try not to buy anything inflatable because I discovered last year that I don't have the lung capacity to blow up a sled the size of Mt. Rushmore.  And I have learned to stay away from anything that says "Fur Real" on it because what that really means is that it's "Fur Really Creepy."

I figured out that lesson a few years ago when I bought my daughter the "Fur Real" cat (which should be renamed the "Pet Cemetery Cat") that has a motion sensor in it I could never figure out how to turn off.  Every time I went into the closet where I had hidden the presents and that cat would turn its head and look at me, I just about soiled myself.

That was also the year my son was the lucky recipient of the "Fur Real" Macaw that he quickly discovered could record what he was saying and repeat it back to him.

All I can say is that that Macaw has a filthy mouth.

But now, I'm outnumbered by older and wiser children who really don't want to hear my helpful suggestions for Christmas.  Last night, I brought them to Toys R Us, hoping to get a little more insight into what they wanted which was big mistake because I quickly realized that their Christmas lists would be better taken care of at Best Buy than an actual toy store.

My stomach clenched with fear as my son pointed out the complex gaming system he was hoping to get, knowing that I would never be able to set it up on my own.  I tried steering him over to the stack of "retro" Atari's on the shelf (God, am I really old enough to be considered retro??) which were cheaper and something I felt sure I could handle.

He looked at me like I had Frogger growing out of my head and said, "Mom.  We can get that stuff for, like, $1 on Ebay."

Silly me.

They've pretty much outgrown the entire center of the store because most of that section doesn't require batteries, a USB cord, or some sort of password they will forget within minutes and then wail about the rest of the day until I can figure out how to reset it.  Even my youngest daughter let me down.  At 6 years old, she is apparently too old for Barbies, has no interest in dress-up, and can't stand the thought of getting something that doesn't have a port in which to plug in headphones.

My son didn't help when he led her over to the DSi selection and said, "Look at these.  Aren't they shiny?  And look at that pink one?  Isn't it pretty?"

I watched as her little face pressed against the glass of the case and I knew I had lost the battle.

Good golly, my parents had it easy.  Okay, so my dad made me a dollhouse one year, I'll give him that one.  But other than that...what did we get?  My sister got a cat one year so all that was really required was poking holes in a box.  I asked for a Cabbage Patch Kid which my mom, ever the planner, actually bought months in advance, sensing the Cabbage Patch Frenzy that was to come.  And then there was that year they gave us both sleeping bags.

Yeah.  I bet they stayed up all night rolling those bad-boys out under the Christmas tree.

It's not even December yet and I'm already feeling the stress.  It kind of makes me wish that I had started promoting a family celebration this year more like Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in "Little House on the Prairie."  I'm daydreaming about my kids dipping into their stockings, bringing out shiny pennies for all to admire or the treat of an orange that they could enjoy later in the day.

As it is right now, I have a feeling if I put an orange in my son's stocking I would probably hear only one thing.

"Hey, Mom.  Where do you put the batteries in this thing?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fighting the Election Day Blues

So I've been poking around Facebook this morning and reading with extreme admiration all of my friends' posts about how truly excited they are that it's Election Day.  This enthusiasm comes from one 1 of 2 places:

1.  They're either truly excited about the election process and honored that they have the priveledge to vote.

2.  Or they're just excited that, come tomorrow, they won't have to watch any more of those political ads.

And I'm embarrassed to say that my own personal election day delight probably stems more from the second reason and not the first.

I feel very un-American as I say that but I truly feel like this year more than any other year the election process has beaten me down.  I'm weary.  I'm jaded.  I'm feeling like I know a lot of people are, after watching 2 men bash each other for months, that I'm not really voting for a great leader.

I'm trying to pick between the lesser of 2 evils.

I find that depressing because it feels like the campaigning process in general has become kind of un-American.  I'm not seeing a whole lot of ads about what a great country this is.  I'm not hearing a ton about how either candidate truly believes that we live in a great society.  All I'm hearing is what I hear in my own house day after day with 3 children.

"I didn't say that!"

"You can't believe him!"

"Mo-om!  He won't let me talk!  He keeps interrupting me!"

And, as a bone-tired parent, I hate that my vote has become a tool for settling a disagreement between 2 squabbling children.

I may be the only one who believes this, but the election process has completely lost the American spirit.  I'm not running to the polls today, hopeful that tomorrow will bring change.  I'm dragging my feet to stand in line so that someone might have a chance to get a couple of things done in the next 4 years.  Because I'm not sure if either one of these candidates is capable of bringing back America's pride.

I'll tell you this:  If one of those men had said, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, "I'm going to take my ads off television for 1 day and donate that money to the people who need it" they would have firmly secured my vote.

Because that's what America should be about.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Top 10 Things Skinny Women Shouldn’t Say

“This will go straight to my hips.”

Unless you are saying this while having a surgical procedure actually performed on your hips, I really don’t want to hear it.  You are especially not allowed to say it while eating a salad, granola bar, or drinking a latte.

“No, I hate going to the gym.  I keep in shape by chasing my kids around.”

Okay.  I have 3 children.  I have a gym membership I use at least 3 times a week.  I also have a sizeable ass.  So shut up.

“If I could change one thing about my body it would be my ankles.”

Enough said.  Bitch.

“I just had a baby a month ago.  I lost all of the weight by breastfeeding.”

Any woman who can even look at her pre-baby jeans a month after having a baby is not to be trusted.  And any woman who can model lingerie weeks after having a baby should be arrested.

"It is so hard for me to find pants that are the right length that still fit in the waist.  They just don’t make long enough jeans in the junior section.”

If you don’t have a student ID, you should not be allowed to shop in the junior section.  Go buy some beer instead.  Then you won’t have this problem.

“Can you put the dressing on the side?”

Don’t say that.  I’ve just ordered a bacon cheeseburger with extra mayo.  Seriously.  Toss that vinaigrette in.  It will be okay.

"I’m having dental work done next week and my doctor told me that I need to gain 10 pounds first.”

I never liked you anyway.

"When I’m PMSing, I can’t even fit into my skinny jeans.”

Okay, if I’ve had an extra glass of water I can’t fit into my skinny jeans.  And by skinny jeans I mean my sweats from high school. 

"Grease just doesn’t agree with me.”

     That’s why I don’t argue with it.

  “My clothes just don’t hang right.”

Hang?  What is this “hang” you speak of?  My clothes suck the very life out of me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It Was Miss Scarlett in the Spa with a Dumbbell. Wait. What???

As a mom, I have been waiting for my kids to be old enough to enjoy the things that I do.  Or force them to do those activities anyway while I can still boss them around.

Anyway, I've always been a person who enjoys playing games - I love Phase 10 (both dice and cards), have cut-throat games of Rummikube with my parents, and almost didn't graduate from college because my roommates and I got so addicted to a card game that left us no time to study.

In recent weeks, I have been talking to my kids about buying the game Clue.  I loved it as a kid and now 2 out of 3 of my children are old enough to understand how to play and the youngest one will probably catch on immediately (even though she's only 6) and beat the pants off the rest of us.  So last night, we stopped by the store and bought it.  And when I opened it up, one thought crossed my mind.

What the hell is this?

There is now a spa in the mansion.  Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard are not distinguished old gentlemen but metro-sexual yuppies with designer glasses and perfect wardrobes.  At the end of the game, we found out that Miss Scarlett had offed someone with a dumbbell, something I don't even think existed in the 1980s outside of Arnold Schwarznegger's home. 

I'm kind of worried that the next time I play, it will be Mrs. White in the kitchen with a botched botox injection.

Anyway, that got me thinking about what other games could be updated from my childhood.  For example:  I'm worried that Chutes and Ladders will no longer be the same.  In order to go down a chute, one must sign a release that you won't sue in case of injury and the ladders will be replaced with escalators to get you to your destination.

Monopoly will be renamed Foreclosure with all of the prices on the real-estate cards slashed in red to indicate the buyer's market it is now.  Cash will no longer be included in the game and it will come with its own credit card swiper.  A banker will no longer be needed  - but someone will need to take on the role of Credit Counselor.

Candyland will keep its name but instead of the peanut brittle house, there will be a frozen yogurt stand and the molasses swamp will be replaced by a Lifetime Fitness.  Children will no longer pull cards that send them back to the candy cane or the dreaded heart and will instead have to backtrack to the Fruit Snacks that don't contain high-fructose corn syrup or the gluten-free chocolate cookie with sugar-free sprinkles.

Battleship won't be worth playing after budget cuts.

The Game of Life will be updated to include a surprise college pregnancy and at least 3 layoffs.  

Scrabble will be obsolete because no one can function without spell-check.

And then I guess all of my childhood games will fit the life my kids are leading now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scenes from a Mall

While I consider myself a shopper, very rarely do I go to the mall.  I'm a bargain hunter so Old Navy, Marshall's, and Ross are my usual stomping grounds.  Buying clothes that cost a lot are too much pressure for the attention span I don't have and I will spend a lot of time worrying that I won't wear something enough to get my money's worth.  So I'd rather spend a few dollars on something that will only wash twice before it falls apart and be done with it.

Today was an emergency, though, because my daughter came home with a little slip of paper from her choir teacher yesterday that said:

Make sure you kids have black pants and white shirts!

Thanks for the heads-up, lady.  As I type this I'm praying that the pants I bought my kid will fit otherwise she's going to be in her black yoga pants and I don't want to hear a word about it.

The mall has changed a lot from my younger days.  They used to be dark, a little dingy, and the best place for us teenagers to practice our skulking skills.  We'd wander around for hours, going into novelty shops like Spencer's that carried nothing that anyone on earth could possibly need and hit the music stores holding our extra large drinks from Taco Bell while we flipped through the selections for hours until we spent $1.00 on a single track.

These days the mall is brightly lit and sucks the very life out of you the moment you walk in the door.  Seriously.  It's like I can feel the moisture leave my body and I'm immediately dehydrated.  About a half hour in, I find myself getting dizzy as I ride the escalator down so that I can begin the slow crawl toward daylight and fresh air.

Not only that, but the teenagers don't skulk because they're too busy texting and they're not carrying the Taco Bell cups of old, but rather large lattes from Starbucks.  

It's amazing the false hope that the mall gives us.  That our lives can be changed by color-blocking.  That those boots will keep us warm and never mind that 5" heel - you'll be fine in the snow.  That if we buy that Pottery Barn dining room set - marked down from $10,000 to $9,950 - our homes will be complete and our families will never say a cross word at dinner because they'll be sitting at that perfectly appointed table, complete with 3 table runners, a large basket of rustic pumpkins that cost $1000, and linen napkins that we will never use again.

For some reason today, I couldn't help but notice the bags that people were carrying and I wondered if they realized what it said about them.  There was an older gentleman in his 60s carrying an Abercrombie & Fitch bag who looked like he might be gearing up for a later-in-life round of dating and was trying to look as young as possible.  I thought about drawing his attention to the woman who was carrying the Anne Taylor bag, but most women who can fit into those clothes are a B cup or less and he might be looking for more. 

And then there was me - walking around with a bag from Bath & Body Works because the soap I bought today was the only thing that fit.

When I go to the mall, it's usually the department stores that I go into.  I start from the bottom and work my way up.  JC Penney's is doing a facelift and I'm a little confused by their new identity but I'm willing to give anything a try.  I'm not sure why I go into Dillard's anymore because most of what I find there I think I'll be more comfortable in when I'm 80.  Macy's will work in a pinch for the bargain hunter in me and if I'm wearing my nice jeans...I'll go into Nordstrom.
I don't know how they do it, but when you walk into Nordstrom, you just look more put together.  Somehow everyone looks perfectly mismatched and carefully uncoordinated and I just know that if I saw the same woman walking around TJMaxx...she wouldn't look as good to me.

I've also spent more at Nordstrom than I do anywhere else and I don't know why.  For some reason, I'll feel compelled to buy a shirt on the sale rack there that still costs $70 even though I wouldn't give it a second thought at Macy's.  There is something about seeing an article of clothing marked down 33% at Nordstrom that makes me think I'm getting a great deal.  

That is, until I get home and think, "Wait.  What did I just buy?"

The truth is, I feel my age every time I go to the mall.  I'm reminded of my very wise grandmother who, when asked if she wanted to go shopping, replied, "Why?  I've already seen everything."

And even though she said that at 90, I'm thinking it at 36.  I feel like I've seen every pair of shoes that someone could possibly invent.  I've been around long enough to see trends go and come back again.  And I'm old enough now to know that the perfect shirt won't fix a bad day and that another pair of black pants are probably no better than the 10 I already have in my closet.

But there's still a part of me that's foolish enough to try.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Know Nothing About Politics. And I Approve This Message

Like many Americans, I watched the Presidential Debate last night, but I'll be the first to admit that I watched it for a reason that really wasn't all that patriotic.

I just wanted to see if Mitt Romney would say something stupid.

But he didn't.  He did very well.  And after last night, there is a clear front-runner in this race.




Clearly, for those who are worried about the educational system in America, Big Bird is the only choice.  And with The Count as his running mate it seems that he just can't lose.

"We can't wait to roll out our new economic policy entitled We'll Get the Country Back on Track Because I Can't Count Higher than 10," The Count said in an interview this morning. "Ah ah ahhhh."

I know that doesn't seem like a very good reason to watch what should be a very important 2 hours to me as an American citizen, but I can't help it.  As soon as any numbers are mentioned, my mind comes to a screeching halt and I get a glazed look.  So if waiting for someone to say something ridiculous was my reason for watching the debate, then I think the Republicans have picked a great candidate who will get even the politically unaware (that would be me) interested in listening to what both candidates have to say.

Much ado was made about the facial expressions of both candidates during the debate while the other was speaking.  Let me sum it up for you:

 "It's my anniversary.  I wonder if I'll get lucky tonight?"

"He's so pretty."

But I really think we should give them a break.  Do you know what my face would look like if I had to argue with someone I hated for two hours on television?

Many people also remarked on how Romney seemed to run the show from the very beginning.  But after his comment about getting rid of the funding that's going to PBS, I began to wonder if Jim Lehrer was giving him the go-ahead so that, if elected, Romney might offer him a job after he was canned from Public Television.  

Then again, maybe Romney was just ignoring the moderator because he wasn't sure if he was real...or a product of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

What I truly did enjoy during the debate was my 2 hour vacation from political commercials.  I have gotten to the point where I DVR every single show I want to watch so that I can skip through all of those ads claiming that if we vote one side or the other, the world as we know it will end.

My mom is sick of it, too.  "I just hate talking politics with anyone," she told me yesterday in a tired voice.  "They all seem to think that if one party or the other is elected, none of us will survive."

She's not kidding and I know she's not the only one who feels this way.  I have been reading posts from friends and family on Twitter and Facebook that seem to indicate that Americans now more than ever aren't voting for someone - they're voting against the other party.  Even the people I know who are staunch Republicans seem to be saying, "Well...if that's the best you could do...." and the Democrats are just trying to hold on with their fingertips so that they might have a chance to finish what they started.

Well.  I have news for you.  In another 4 years, no one will really finish anything.

For those people who think that the country will collapse if either party is elected, you have clearly never sat on a board before.  My impatience with working with a group of people who all have no doubt that their way is the best way and are completely unwilling to yield has made me a very uncivic-minded person.  My last experience with this was about 10 years ago when I sat on the board of the local cultural commission that spent 6 months trying to get a statue in front of a restaurant approved.  By the time I resigned, I was so damn frustrated that I was ready to vote against the arts in every poll that was put in front of me.

So imagine how hard it must be to get little things like taxes and healthcare approved.

What might take a dictator 2 days to roll out (not that I'm for that form of politics), Congress will never get off the ground in 4 years because every person seems to think they know best.  If the Republicans are elected, they'll spend the next 4 years trying to overturn everything the Democrats have done and if the Democrats are elected they'll keep plugging away, trying to get what they want done before the next group gets in there and changes it all.

This would be why Big Bird might be the best alternative.  And with all of those Stanley Steemer commercials that are set in the Oval Office, they already have things covered should a bird take office.

Anyway, after watching 2 hours of candidates telling each other that they were wrong about each other's policies and listening to Jim Lehrer say uh, wait, and you only have 5 seconds when he had clearly lost all control of what was going on, I had only one thing running through my mind the entire time.

They preempted Modern Family for this?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honey Boo Boo, Football, & Kurt Busch

People love watching things that make them cringe.  If you don't believe me, then tell me you haven't heard of a show that involves a toothless child named Honey Boo Boo.  America is fascinated with this little girl whose mother has what my family would call "gradoo" growing within the folds of her neck and regularly grocery shops at a gas station. We feel nauseous as we watch it, but hey - we're watching it and isn't that the point?

I swore I wouldn't get sucked in but then Kris Jenner (of Kardashian fame) said that she "thinks the show is 'exploitative' and that the Thompson family is 'classless, unlike her family and [she] can't understand why America is so fascinated them'."

OMG.  If Kris Jenner is saying that, then it is a "must see."

As they say ("they" are always so smart!) "there's no such thing as bad press" and if you haven't been watching Honey Boo Boo, chances are you've been addicted to some other cringe-worthy television.

Professional football.

When it comes to football, I suffered a huge disappointment this week.  Even though I casually watched the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday night, I turned it off early to help my kids with their homework (silly mom) and I missed that controversial call at the end of the game.

But that's okay.  Because it has been replayed on every talk show, news show, and has been written about in detail in just about every publication I have opened in the 4 days since.  If you're like me and you missed it, this picture pretty much sums it up:

Yes.  That would be one replacement ref signalling "touchdown" while the other one is saying, "Nope."

Sports fans across the country were livid.  Their anger started building during the first half of the Broncos-Falcons game on Sunday, as two quarters took 5 hours because of poor officiating and John Fox's inability to stand behind that little white line, and then climaxed on Monday night.  Football fans have been demanding that the NFL replace the replacements with people who have officiated a sport other than curling.

All I can think is...why in the hell would they do that?

As a nation, we have become less focused on the economy because we have something more irritating to talk about.  Mitt Romney is breathing a sigh of relief that that whole "47%" comment has been replaced with headlines like "Ref Rage."  On The Today Show yesterday, everything they talked about - from cooking to foreign politics - seemed to go back to this ridiculous play on Monday Night Football.

"This chicken leg is great," said Al Roker to Martha Stewart.  "You know what's not great?  That call during the Packers-Seahawks game."

Never has the NFL been talked about so much.  I've found myself watching games with teams I really couldn't care less about just to see if one of the refs would finally declare someone "safe" in the end-zone and hand them roses as they come off the field.  And I know that many people were relieved to hear that the strike was over and that the old officials will be back this weekend.

But personally, I think they should have kept this going until next season: their ratings would have been through the roof and it probably would have been the Cleveland Browns' only chance of making it to the Superbowl.

All press is good press and this is something that Furniture Row Racing is probably figuring out this week.  In a stunning move (okay, maybe not "stunning."  Bold?  Ballsy?) they replaced their former driver, Regan Smith, with Kurt Busch and he'll be in the driver's seat before the end of the season.  Comments about this ranged the gamut, from indignant fans who didn't want to see Smith go to a conversion of fans over to the #78 because they just can't get enough of Busch.

He is, apparently, the driver that American loves to hate because of his...well...colorful vocabulary.  I've heard reports that the FRR shop plans to install a "Cuss Jar" and will use the proceeds for a group outing at the end of next season.

The team is estimating that they will be able to afford a European tour and be able to take along their significant others and extended family.

Anyway, the whole point is, people are talking about it and if what FRR wants it publicity, they've got it.  They've gone from a cursory mention in The Denver Post every so often to headlines all over the internet.  Their comments on Facebook went from a handful here and there to almost 300 the day they made the announcement.  They've hired a guy who a lot of people secretly love because he's a loose cannon.  And those people will watch that team every weekend, even if it's just to cheer against him.

None of this should surprise anyone anymore.  In this country, fame can be built on a foundation of sex tapes that get "secretly" leaked to the press, bad hygiene is enough to base a television show on, and it doesn't matter how many good deeds you do - if you're caught topless on a private vacation, that's the real headline.

So, use subtitles even though you're speaking English.  Make as many bad calls as you want to.  Mr. Censor - get your fingers ready to do some real-time editing on race day.

You know.  'Cause we're all watching.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Unofficial Officials and the Joys of the New NFL Season

Football season has started and no one is happier about that than I am.  I'm a Steeler's fan (I, hiss) and always will be.  That is, unless I move.  No, I'm not based in Pittsburgh, I'm in the heart of Bronco country.  But since my late husband decorated our entire basement in Steeler's paraphernalia (including painting the walls a combination of charcoal gray and yellow) it's just cheaper for me to root for the Steelers than it is to redecorate an entire floor of my house.

So, basically I'm a devoted Steeler's fan because my decor tells me to be.

I used to love football season because I wasn't a football fan at all.  As soon as the first kick was in the air at 11 AM, my husband would settle himself in for a day of television at which point I would say, "Well, since you're going to be here anyway and you can watch the kids (sort of), I guess I'll go shopping.  Just throw out a snack for them around halftime."

The weird thing is that I became more of a football fan after he died, mainly because I felt like someone needed to carry the Steelers torch in my Saints loving/Broncos devoted family.  I think my husband would be proud that I have carried on his tradition of "whoever you're going to root for, I'm going to pick the other team."  And in the last few years, I have gotten great enjoyment (as he did) pissing people off.  Just because I can.

The truth is, I don't really know the ins and outs of the game all that well.  I generally know when people are running in the right direction and can cheer accordingly, but when there is an actual penalty I very rarely know what it's for.  I guess I just don't have a knack for it because I spent my high school and college years at football games and then married a devoted fan and still haven't been able to grasp the details.  I'll never forget, about 2 years into our marriage, watching a Packer's game at a friend's house and asking loudly, "So...what exactly is a down?"

My husband stared at me in stunned silence and then said, "You don't know what a down is?"

I was embarrassed about that for years until one of my friends said, "That's nothing.  I once asked everyone at a party how they're able to paint that yellow line on the field so fast."

That made me feel better.

Football this year has been especially entertaining because of the officials.  For those of you who have been too busy watching tennis to know what's going on, the official officials are on strike and so we have been stuck with what one announcer called "6th string officials."  Apparently college football has taken what would have been the NFL's second, third, fourth, and fifth choices and has left professional football with bunch of guys who would usually be getting ready for duck hunting season right now.  Because every time a flag is thrown, you can see the panic on their faces as they convene to see what it was thrown for.

"Okay, who threw that?"

"Wasn't me."

"Not me."

"I just needed to blow my nose.  Sorry."

"Well, we have to come up with something.  How about a delay of game with too many players on the field, a false start, and a large pizza?"

"Sounds good."

My boyfriend has been particularly annoyed with all of the celebrating going on with the players this year.  It seems like after every play with a gain of 1/2 a yard, there is at least one guy who starts flapping his arms up and down like he's at a rave.

"What are you celebrating?" Mike will scream at the TV.  "You didn't do anything!"

We've only watched a handful of regular season games, but I think by the end of the season Mike will be petitioning the NFL for more armless players.

The celebrating doesn't annoy me.  I find it intriguing.  Is this a new side-effect of steroids?  Do these guys practice this?  Do they go home and stand in front of a full-length mirror and start pumping their arms up and down and then say, "No.  That's not quite it" and then start fluttering their legs back and forth like demented middle schoolers? 

More importantly, are their wives sitting at home watching them on TV, hands over their eyes saying, "Please don't do it.  Just this once."

I don't know.  Maybe it makes you feel really good to celebrate every little thing that happens in your life, like the gain of 2 inches (must be a man thing) or pummeling another guy into the ground so hard that his athletic cup shoots into his sock.

I really shouldn't judge before I try it.

From now on, when I pick my kids up at school (because the alternative is that I'll forget and leave them there), I'm going to jump up and down waving my hands yelling, "Yeah, baby!"  The second I put dinner on the table, I'm going to run a lap around the house saying, "WHO DAT?" over and over again.  If my kids successfully get their homework done, I'm going to demand a belly bump from each one of them and then get in their faces and scream, "You got this!"

I may look silly.  But at least I won't be doing it on national television. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Political Season & Why You Won't Win My Vote On Facebook

A long time ago when I was in elementary school (so a very, very long time ago), I remember asking my mother who she was planning on voting for in the upcoming presidential election.

"It's not polite to ask," she told me.

I don't know if that rule was just in my family or if that was part of a bygone era, when asking someone about their political affiliation was akin to asking about their weight or their actual age.  But in my immediate family, politics were rarely discussed and considered somewhat private.  I don't even know if my parents told each other who they were voting for.

I miss those days. 

When people thought that sex was private and so were political attachments. 


I've seen a lot of mixed feelings about sharing political beliefs on the social media pages - some love the debate and some feel like it's the same thing as getting a campaign call in the middle of a dinner you've been waiting all day to have.  Which is to say, they find it incredibly annoying.

I fall into the latter category.

This is mainly because the people who are talking about it just won't shut up.  It's one thing to post one informational article a day.  It's quite another to post 12 in a row so that my newsfeed is jam-packed with headlines like

Obama Will Welcome Destructive Aliens from Outer Space if Elected 
& Plans to Give Them Florida as Incentive to Vote for Him!


 Romney Offers Wife to Donald Trump if He Can Secure a Win!

Rosanne Barr is looking better and better.

When I see these headlines, it makes me skim and scroll down to one of the innocent (but previously annoying to me before the political season started what seems like 500 years ago) pictures of a kitten or a photo of someone's dinner the night before.

The funny thing about all of this is that I'm the person that all of these people are targeting:  The one who hasn't completely dug her heels into the ground on one political side or the other.  The one who just wants the best person for the job.  But after months and months of outrageous headlines, phone calls, and emails from people I don't even know...would you like to know what I would like to do on Election Day?

Go get a latte, a pedicure, and skip the whole messy business of voting.

You've worn me down, but not the way you think.  You haven't won me over, you've made me want to move to another country.  You've made me believe, through your ranting and raving, that there just isn't a good person to vote for.

So I won't.

I discussed this with my dad the other night (a non-Facebooker) who said, "Maybe that's the point.  Maybe that's what they're trying to do.  They're trying to talk you out of voting at all - if you're not going to vote for the person they want you to."

Hmmmm.  Food for thought.  And I'm not stupid.  I know that there are people out there who want to confuse the American public as much as possible, in the hopes that whoever they're pulling for gets put into office because Kermit the Frog got 1,000 votes and screwed up the whole kit and caboodle.

And if that's your goal...I think it's working.

When it comes to emails, I find it interesting that the ones I usually receive are from people I don't know very well.  I find it kind of...well...ballsy...that people will send emails out to their entire address book, most of whom they have never had a political conversation with before in their lives.  I have gotten emails that are obviously racist, bigoted, and then there's the downright stupid.  And do you know what that makes me want to do?

Hit delete on that relationship.

The interesting thing is, the most well-informed and well-educated people I know would never think to send me that stuff.  I know that if I actively engaged one of them in a political discussion, they would tell me their thoughts.  And I would listen to them.  Because they're not being rammed down my throat.

Years ago, my late husband and I witnessed a political argument between two people who were so completely opposed in their beliefs...I couldn't even figure out why they were having the discussion.  It was obvious that no amount of "facts" would make either one change their mind and they should have just shook hands and gone to their separate corners.  And my husband - the one who had been in the military and worked for the Department of Defense and who had first-hand knowledge of the topics that were being argued - sat there in silence with a little smile on his face.

"Why didn't you say something?"  I asked him later.  "You know about that stuff more than either of those two."

"Because there was no point in getting into it," he said, calmly.  "They both believed what they were going to believe.  And in an argument that heated...I wouldn't get anywhere."

I know that some people will relate to this post and some won't.  Some will be annoyed and some will nod their heads in agreement.  And that's okay.  I'm going to post it once - not 15 times today.  I won't email anyone about it and I won't call anyone at dinnertime to see if they've read it.  Because, when it comes to voicing an opinion, there are times when less is more.

And people who speak softly are often heard the most.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Just a 6 ft. Woman Living in a 5'8" World

I stopped shopping for clothes with my friends many years ago.  I think it was the day, as I scanned a display of jeans hoping to find that one pair of "talls" in a haystack of "shorts" and "averages" and my 5'8" friend complained, "I have the hardest time finding pants that fit."

Let me tell you something:  If what you're looking for is an average length in, you have no idea how good you have it.

I've never minded being tall and I hit my 6'0" stature early in life, way before the boys did.  I come by it naturally, on both sides of the family, and usually the only reason I have to look up at someone is if I'm at a reunion.  I'm constantly asked to look for people in crowds and grab things off the top shelf at the grocery store.

I've come to the conclusion, being the wise and seasoned adult that I am, that the reason why men will always have more power is because their pants always detail the specific waist size and length.  They can quickly flip through a rack and determine in two minutes whether or not there is something there that will fit them.  And if they're really tall, they have the advantage of stopping by one of the many "Big & Tall" shops to find what they're looking for.

As a 6' tall woman living in a country that apparently thinks that all females should either be 5'7" or we should just cut our feet off...that has me a little jealous.

You wouldn't know it from my closet because it's actually stocked with pants.  The problem is that most of them don't fit right on other areas of my body.  But when I find that rare "Tall" on a rack, I feel like Columbus discovering the New World and they have to be mine.  It's quite possible that they're too tight in the thigh, highlight my muffin top, or, if I'm not wearing the right shirt could show (as my friend calls it) "Krakatoa"...but if the bottoms at least hit the tops of my feet, I'm getting them.

My sister taught me a shopping shortcut years ago.  She and I are the same height, but she has the same inseam as my dad who is 6'4".  This is great when you're looking at bathing suits and I've often cursed her when I see her walking into the room in a cute little dress I could never pull off.  But when it comes to shopping for pants, she has a harder time than I do.

"Don't even take them into the dressing room if they don't pool at your feet when you hold them up against you in the store," she advised me years ago.  "It's just a waste of time."

My younger self did not realize that this was going to be a life-long battle because when I was in the process of reaching my full height, I had the advantage of growing up during the era of tight-rolled jeans.  While this trend was wildly unattractive, I'm betting it saved my parents a fortune in pants because it really didn't matter what length they bought them in.  As long as I could peg them at the bottom, making my lower half look like an upside-down triangle...we were good to go.

But then the late 80s/early 90s happened and the styles changed drastically and any woman over 5'9" was going to have a major problem.  You guessed it.

Stirrup pants.

I'd really like to meet the moron who came up with this idea, because the truth is...they didn't look good on anyone.  But, speaking on behalf of my people - when you take a pair of pants that attach to your feet (which, for a tall person are extremely far away from your waist), there are going to be issues.  And, in my case, those issues happened to be broadcast throughout the greater Denver area.

I'll never forget it.  I'd been asked to model some "junior apparel" on the local news right around the time I turned 16-years-old.  Now, I hadn't worn junior sizes since I was about 11-years-old because after that, I shot up 5 inches in the space of a year.  But I'd gotten away with it before that because I was usually assigned long skirts while the other "cute as a button" girls got the pants.

That day, I showed up to the studio late, out of breath, and sweaty from trying to parallel park my non-power steering car downtown.  As I ran into the studio, I thought I couldn't possibly look any worse.  And then I was handed my outfit and was sent to the dressing room to begin living my worst nightmare.

Wearing junior-sized stirrup pants.  On TV.

I pulled them on, and sure enough - with the straps around my feet and the pants pulled up as high as they could go, the pants didn't even come close to hitting my waist.  I scrambled to find the assigned shirt and was relieved to see that it was over-sized enough to cover the uncovered area and they were even nice enough to throw in a sweatshirt to tie around my waist.  I quickly pulled it and took a look at myself in the mirror before I was rushed to the camera.

And that's how I ended up on TV at 16-years-old, sweaty and disheveled - in stirrup pants that were too short and a gigantic Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

I gave myself a pep-talk on the way home that day, reasoning that none of my friends watched the news.  No one would see this.  So, imagine my surprise when I walked into my first period class the next morning and was greeted with, "Hey!  We saw you on TV last night!"

Not my proudest moment.

I've always been the taller one in any serious relationship I've had because most men 6'5" and up prefer women who barely reach 5'.  And I don't mean to be rude to my gender, but I consider that a huge waste.  If you are short and dating a tall man, you should have the decency to break-up with him and just say, "I can't, in good conscious, date you.  Please go find a woman who is only three inches shorter than you are.  They need you so they can wear heels and not dance with someone in their cleavage."

But being taller than my significant other does have it's advantages.  I don't mind always getting the aisle seat on a plane because someone else can more comfortably sit in the middle.  I don't mind having a better reach across the pool table date.  And I don't mind staring someone down in an argument. 

The problem is that it doesn't matter who wears the pants in the family if the pants are always an inch too short.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 1st Day Of School & My Honeymoon With Freedom

It's finally here.  The first day of school.  Today I packed three lunches, took pictures on the front porch, gave three great big hugs....

And then barely slowed down my minivan before I hit the "open" button on the automatic doors and sent them all - all of them - for their first full day of school.

I can't believe I'm the same mother who cried on the last day of school last spring.  Who saw the beginning of this school year as an end to something (which it was) and not the beginning.

The beginning of the first series of full free days in over 10 years.

It helped that my kids were as excited about school as they are when they run down the stairs to see what Santa has brought them on Christmas morning (I'm choosing to ignore the fact that they were that happy to get the heck out of here and focus on the fact that they love school).  I know this excitement will be fleeting and that while we were 10 minutes early for the drop-off lane this morning, by next week they will all be dragging their feet and we'll be 10 minutes late.

I don't care, as long as we get there.

It also helped my own state of mind that I hadn't been away from one or all of my children in probably about a month.  Someone has always been with me.  So the second they were out of the car, I turned up the radio to music that I wanted to listen to and hit the road.

And what did I do, you ask?  (I know you didn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.)

1.  My first stop was the gym.  My excitement escalated when I realized that I could head straight to the women's locker room without stopping at the kids center and I wanted to pat all of those women on the back who were struggling to get their toddlers from the parking lot to the day care and say, "It's okay.  Look at me!  No kids!  You'll get there." 

Even though the treadmill looked at me like, "Who the hell are you?" I gave it a hug and told him it was nice to be back.  He forgave me and then complimented me on my new tennis shoes.  The weights were less forgiving and I think it's going to take some time for us to get back to our old relationship.

2.  After leaving the gym, I couldn't help but notice that I had left just in time to run into my favorite local antique shop, the one I had abandoned 2 months ago.  I pealed into the parking lot so that I could spend 20 uninterrupted minutes wandering around breakable things, just because I could.

I then bought 2 pieces of jewelry I didn't need and I have no idea when I'll wear them just so I could watch my credit card being used without someone standing next to me saying, "How come I didn't get anything?"

(Incidentally, the owner of the antique store told me that she thought about doing something special today for all of the mothers who had just dropped off their kids at school.  I suggested a 20% off sale with a Bloody Mary bar.  She thought that was a good idea.)

3.  I ran into a department store to buy a birthday present and noticed two things: 

             ~More mothers struggling with toddlers as they were desperately trying to buy themselves underwear that they will realize when they get home are the wrong size because they were so distracted by the screaming child. 

            ~Women who looked like me, sweaty and disheveled after their workout this morning and flipping through racks of clothing, not because they needed anything but just because they could.

4.  I went to the bathroom which I know is TMI, but I was so excited to do it in peace, I just had to share it with someone.  For the first time in over 2 months, I was able to go without someone screaming, "Mom?  MOM?  MOM????" 25 times the moment my butt hit the porcelain.  I'm sure that my neighbors were relieved that this morning passed without me screaming at the top of my lungs, "I'm in the BATHROOM!" with all of my windows open.

5.  I took a shower without being scalded by someone in my house who has impeccable timing and never fails to flush just as I'm rinsing out my shampoo.  This is something I know I should correct, but right now I'm just happy when they remember to do it. 

Which brings me to now.  My first day of freedom has started off with a bang and now it's time to buckle down and get a little work done before the herd is back.  It's 2:00 and everything is still quiet.

Too quiet.

I may have to go turn the TV on in the other room for a little background noise.